'Ye meri team hai, coach aur mujhe jo theek lagega...': Pandya's straightforward answer to Samson, Malik warming benches
The three-T20I series between India and New Zealand came to an abrupt end as rain led to a rare tie via DLS par score. In the first T20I series after India's semi-final loss to England in T20 World Cup 2022, players like Sanju Samson and Umran Malik were expected to get picked but warmed the benches during the short series. As India won the T20I series 1-0, stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya in the post-match press conference explained why Samson and Malik did not make the cut.
"Pehli baat toh bahar kaun kya bol raha hai usse ye level pe farak nahi padta. Ye meri team hai, coach aur mujhe jo theek lagega, jo side hume chahiye hoga (hum wo khilayenge). Bahut samay hai. Sabko mauka milega aur jab mauka milega lamba milega. Agar bada series hota, zyada matches hote toh obviously opportunities zyada hote. Ye chhota series tha, main zyada chop and change mein believe nahi karta aur age bhi believe nei karunga. (First things first, who is saying what outside, doesn't really affect us at this level. This is my team and I'll pick the best side after discussing with the coach. There is ample of time. Everyone will get their chances and when they do, it will be a long run. This was a small series, if we had more matches then we could have tried out more players)," Pandya told the reporters.
Samson has been in and out of the side a few times now and has not been given the long rope. On the other hand, Malik was considered raw and was not considered for T20 World Cup. In the press conference, Hardik explained his point with the example of Deepak Hooda who registered the best bowling figures of 4/10 for India against New Zealand in T20I format.
"Jaise mujhe six-bowling option chahiye tha aur woh cheez is tour mein aaya hai jaise Deepak ne ball dala hai. Thoda thoda karke agar aise batsman chip in karte rahenge (with the ball) toh aapke paas bahut saare mauke honge naye bowlers use karke opponents ko surprise karne ka. (For example, I wanted a six-bowling option and Deepak did that very well. If the batters start to chip in with the ball then we will have options to surprise the opposition)," the all-rounder said.
Chasing a total of 161, India lost three quick wickets of openers Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer. But Pandya made the most of the dropped catch and scored a quickfire 18-ball 30 to help India reach the DLS par score in the ninth over.
“Would have liked to win the game by playing the full overs, but it is what it is. At some point, I felt attack is the best defence on this wicket. We know the kind of bowling attacks they have, it was very important to get those 10-15 runs extra even though we lost a couple of wickets,” Pandya said in the post-match presentation.